Saturday, July 08, 2023

Happiness Tinged With Sadness..

 In my last post, I told you all about the new phase in our lives.

Al and I are settling in nicely on Tickety Boo and the marina where she is moored is lovely. Unfortunately, I have recently lost another close friend who played a huge part at the Marina.

Mark was one of a kind and the mold was definitely broken once he was made! He was a once-in-a-lifetime character. Slightly bonkers, unique, funny, stubborn, wacky sense of humor with a heart of absolute gold.

He was taken suddenly totally out of the blue and if I am being honest I am still reeling from the shock, and finding it hard to accept he has gone. We go way back and at one time we were an item but we both very soon realized we would never make it as a couple and we were far better as close friends and we were. We could go weeks or even months not seeing or hearing from each other but always picked up where we left off.

Mark was really happy for Al and me and he was pleased to see me settled with someone at long last! He had lots of girlfriends but never managed to settle down, his first loves were his family, boat, and his dog. Sadly he had recently had his dream boat built and he had so many plans for the future I find it incredibly sad that he never got to see those plans through.

The Marina holds so many memories of Mark, everywhere you look his handiwork is evident, he loved working at the Marina and was always about with a cheery wave and that mischievous grin! I know he is missed by us all.

Mark always gave everybody a nickname, mine was Dooey short for Debbie Dolittle, he thought that was hilarious, me not so much but it grew on me! I got my own back by giving him the nickname Scooby, he just reminded me of the gangly cartoon character all legs and goofiness. Alan didn't get away with it either Mark called him Haircut as he always has his hair neatly cut.

Mark's woodworking skills were excellent he took pride in his work and it shows. He made a lovely cratch frame for Tickety Boo and made it exactly as I asked. I am really happy we have that to remember him by.

The Marina will never be the same again but when we chat about Mark with other boaters it always makes us smile remembering him. I will miss him a lot as we all will. More than anything I will miss his voice bellowing Doooooooeeeeey over the Marina!

The only thing that gives me some comfort in losing my friend at such a young age is that he packed so much into his short life, more than most people do living to a ripe old age. Mark will always be remembered forever young and full of beans taking the micky out of people but not in a nasty way.

I am in touch with Marks's Mum and Dad on a regular basis and as you can imagine they are devastated but we often laugh at memories of him we recall. My heart goes out to them.

I have lots of fond memories of my wacky friend and I know for certain he wouldn't want any of us to be sad he would tell us we were being silly buggers!  As time passes the sadness will lift but he will never ever be forgotten...


RIP Scooby xxx

Monday, July 03, 2023

Back On Water!

 Well, where do I begin? Before I start this post I want to thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Quite a few people have asked when will I write another so here we go!

It's been a hectic year really but in a nice kind of way. Al put his house on the market as he wants to downsize. A four-bedroom family house was a tad too big for both of us. It was hard for him and I will never underestimate how tough it was for him to sell his lovely home but as I pointed out to him all the lovely memories that were made in that home would travel with him in his head and heart, and there were truly lots over the thirty odd years he lived there. He had toyed with the idea for some years to downsize so the fact that he took that leap of faith makes me really proud of him.

The bungalow we were hoping to move into has not been vacated as of yet as the sellers haven't found a suitable new home. Luckily we have Tickety Boo to live on while we wait. I can think of a lot worse places to stay! I love being on board again because as you all know I love my boat, I just hope Al will cope with living on her for a while! I am sure he will be fine and seems to be settling in well. It's not completely new to him as he has stayed on the boat lots of times.

As you all know if you have moved house, it's really stressful and hard work! Made even more stressful by the fact the property we were hoping to move into won't be available for a while. In the meantime, Al is leaving his options open. Everything is safely in storage so it will still be there for us when we move into our new abode.

We went on a two-week cruise at the end of July it was a much-needed holiday before the onslaught of packing and moving which was imminent. The break was nice but the new P+O ship we went on was not our cup of tea at all, it was huge, and had far too many people on board. Lots of queues for everything which we really didn't like, so in future we will stick to the smaller more personal ships. The break did however recharge our batteries. Unfortunately, our calorie intake went through the roof, we all but bounced off the ship at the end of the cruise!! We have however been really good since being home and the pounds gained are coming off slowly. Running up and down stairs dozens of times while moving helped too!

It took a while to decide just what to bring to the boat as she is already equipped for living on so we just had to choose carefully which of our many clothes and shoes to bring as storage on the boat is minuscule compared to a four-bedroom house with lots of wardrobe space! My Mum has kindly let us put a huge clothes rail in her spare bedroom so we can get to our clothes if need be. My little "Noddy Car" (Fiat 500) has now become a mobile shoe caddy as I have all my shoes in a suitcase in the boot, a kind of Fiat Emelda Marcos! We need to have our dancing shoes at hand too as we still love to dance.

I took a whole day to unpack the numerous bags we brought to the boat as everything had to have an allotted space tidy and out of the way. I spent most of the time juggling and swapping about to make space, I am proud to say I did it..eventually. I like to keep the boat tidy so I won, just!

So now we will just enjoy living on the boat and wonder where we will end up living as there is a possibility that the owners of the bungalow may not find a suitable new home and even though Al put in an offer that was accepted they may have no choice than to back out on the deal but we will see.

Al enjoying a pint on the cruise in Barcelona.
I loved it there beautiful place.

One of the highlights of the cruise

was this fabulous Horse show that Al surprised me with, The horses were stunning I loved every minute. We then went on to a Sherry tasting which was lovely too. 

Big Sherry glass needed!

Another lovely highlight was my 64th Birthday gorgeous flowers from Al and a lovely meal plus money to treat myself, I am so bloody spoilt! It was also lovely to be treated to another lovely meal with Mum, my two Daughters Kirsty and Heather,  Charlotte, my Son Dean, and my fabulous Granddaughters Phoebe and Darcy. So lovely having them all together! 

The Gang!

My lovely flowers.

We have lots of little jobs to do on the boat that will keep us busy at the weekends. I only have two more weeks in work before we break up for our 6-week school summer holiday, I can't wait!

Hopefully, I won't leave it too long before I write another blog but I can't promise! Life is wonderfully busy at the minute so as much as I like waffling to you all I just can't believe where the time goes!

We have lots to look forward to finding a new place to live but I will let you into a secret, my home is wherever Al is so I will adapt to any choice he makes for our new home.  Happiness is being with the one who means everything.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Well, What A Year That Was!

 Finally got around to another post!

Well, 2021 flew by, I can't keep up with how fast time is going! It was a fabulous year all be it a bit restricted but lots of nice things happened for me regardless!

We now have two new rooms on Tickety boo, We have had two new recreational spaces added to the boat. To say I am thrilled would be a total understatement! I have longed for bow and stern covers for years but it was just a distant dream until now, thanks to a certain somebody!

We decided to go with Amtrim boat covers and what an excellent choice that was. Their attention to detail is superb and the advice and suggestions to make the covers look their best was outstanding, to say the least. We had to wait for a while as they were very busy but in my book that's the best advert a company can have, it means they are in demand for an excellent service!

 After waiting a couple of months the two lovely guys came out and measured, they then got back to us with a price and in no time the covers were ready to be fitted. I was blown away at just how lovely the boat looked. We decided to go for black with green trim to match the boat. I must add at this stage I much prefer to see boats without covers, aesthetically I think they just look better without but I was pleasantly surprised at how Tickety boo suited them, especially with the matching green trim! The company come highly recommended and couldn't have been more helpful.

                                                     T Boo in her new cratch cover.

                                                 Our new conservatory/garden room.
                                                 ( Oh ok it's the back deck but I quite like the new names)
                               We were really surprised at how roomy the cruiser stern is undercover.
                                There has always been a bistro table and two chairs on the back deck
                                 but now we can eat out there even when it's raining instead of just on a
                                 sunny day!


                               The bow is cute too. Al has laid astroturf  bow and stern. I wasn't 
                               sure about the turf but I like it now it's down.

                                        So two more little rooms to use. I am just in the middle 
                                        of cosying up both bow and stern to make them a bit more 
                                           comfortable but all in all we are really pleased!
                                         A big bonus is the engine bay will stay dry!

                                                         My little gateleg table in the bow

                                                Astroturf and cushions!       

That was the first exciting thing of the year. Al and I are still dancing our little legs off! It's good fun.
We also had a fabulous holiday to look forward to...

Al surprised me with a two-week Christmas and New Years' cruise on the beautiful Queen Elizabeth!
There was a lot of protocol to go through to sail but it was so worth it. The Christmas decorations onboard were stunning! What a truly beautiful ship. We had a ball lots of dancing, eating, drinking and theatre. We had some lovely excursions my favourite being Madeira.

We docked in Madeira on new years eve so spent the day touring the breathtaking private gardens we then took the cable car and when we got to the top we took a toboggan ride back down again, it was hysterical! It's a wooden sledge type thing that is steered by two men down the sloping streets of Madeira. I have never seen anything like it but it was a great experience.

The highlight of the holiday for me was New years eve. The ship moved away from the port so we had a full view of the island ready for the firework display at midnight. It was one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen, it was spectacular watching the whole island light up with a fantastic display.

           The fabulous Toboggan ride down the streets of Madeira, great fun!

  The stunning gardens in Madeira 



    New Years' firework display, the photo doesn’t do it justice it was stunning!

The whole cruise was fantastic until a couple of days before it was due to end. All the passengers on board had to have a Covid test before we sailed back home and guess who tested positive, ME!
I couldn't believe it I had worked in retail all through the pandemic and managed not to catch it!
We were shocked to be told that anybody with Covid would have to leave the ship so we were escorted off by men in white suits and masks. We had to be wheeled off in wheelchairs so we didn't touch anything and there was a person following us with a spray to kill any germs. All we were short of was a little bell to ring and to shout out that we were unclean! Luckily they closed the floor off to other passengers so we had at least a little dignity while being turfed off!

The hotel we were put up in was ok but the food left a lot to be desired especially after the gorgeous food on the ship. We had to stay in the hotel room for 6 days! Poor Al had tested negative but still had to isolate with me bless him. Now Al and I get on really well we have a pretty carefree happy relationship so we got on fine over the six days locked up together we did a lot of laughing and just looked forward to being set free from our prison in Spain! There were other couples in the hotel who had left the ship too I just hope they all coped with being locked in together as well as Al and I otherwise they would have been ripping strips off each other!! The only food I kind of enjoyed was eggs benedict that we had for breakfast but after six days of it I would be quite happy to never see another one as long as I live!!

We were so happy to leave that hotel and get our two flights home. We arrived at Manchester tired but happy to be home only to find they had lost our luggage!!! Could things get any worse?? Thankfully they found our luggage eventually, it was still in Spain! It was delivered to us a couple of days later.

To be fair to Cunard they treated us well, they paid for the hotel and the two flights home, reimbursed us for the days we lost on the cruise and sent us a beautiful hamper! Thankfully it was at the end of the cruise so we didn't miss much!

So, this year is well on it's way too! It's flying by with amazing speed! We had a lovely visit with an old school friend of mine and his wife who were visiting from Australia. We had a day out on the boat and we all really enjoyed a  nice meal in a Canalside pub with lots of chatting and laughs, Brian and Lorraine were great company. We have some nice dance weekends away coming up and a  wedding abroad. In the meantime, we are still loving our dancing especially when we had a day at the Blackpool ballroom a lovely place we love dancing there.

                                               The lovely Blackpool Ballroom.

I went to the boat yesterday it was lovely weather cool but sunny the space we have to sit in on the back deck is so lovely and really warm, like I have said the addition of the covers on the boat has made a vast difference to how we utilise the space we cane dine out there in all weathers now too!

             I would like to say a big hello to Judy Grange who has been kind enough to read my blogs and often gives me a gentle reminder to write another! I can't think why she enjoys my waffleings but apparently, she does so thank you to her and anybody else who takes the time to read them. I hopefully won't leave it too long this time before I write another! I am living my best life at the minute I have a lovely partner and a beautiful place to live plus we have the boat whenever we wish to just escape for a while. All this I am truly grateful for and just makes me a really happy bunny! Catch you all soon!        

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Up Up And Away!

 Last December I wanted to buy Al a really unusual Birthday present so after wondering for a while I decided on a hot air balloon ride!

Unfortunately due to the lockdown, we couldn't go until now, so on the 23rd of August we took to the skies and it was brilliant! I had to ring after 2pm to make sure the flight was going ahead because obviously if the weather was bad we wouldn't be able to fly. The weather was excellent so the flight was going ahead at 5:30 that evening

We had to meet at the Boar's Head pub in Nantwich, the balloon would be taking off in the field next to the pub. I have to admit I was feeling a bit nervous as well as excited. I needn't have worried it was great! The pilot and ground crew turned up at 5pm unloaded the basket and balloon and started filling the balloon with air from big fans, once it was semi-inflated they lit the gas and the balloon rose up, it was huge a lot bigger than I expected! We had all been told which compartment we were to climb into so as soon as the pilot gave us the go-ahead we all had to climb in. There were 4 compartments for the passengers and one for the pilot, 4 people in each and the pilot in the one in the middle with the controls I was amazed that there were so many in the basket, 17 in all! No wonder the Balloon was huge it would have to be to carry us lot! 

The Balloon starting to inflate!

Looking up into the huge cavity of the balloon! 

Once the balloon was fully inflated the gas jet shot a huge flame into the balloon to enable us to fly and fly we did! It took off gently and floated up and up It was the most surreal feeling the views were stunning, we were so lucky with the weather too. Once the balloon reached a good height the gas was turned off and on intermittently, when it was off it was so peaceful and tranquil. I said to Al it must be the nearest you could ever get to feeling like a bird.



                                                           We were off!

We could see for miles, even the Liverpool skyline could be seen in the distance. The patchwork farmers' fields stretched for miles and miles it was breathtaking. The farmhouses and animals all in miniature it was like looking down on model villages. All the vehicles were tiny, tractors, cars, and the ground crew in their jeeps all looked like dinky cars on a child's playmat!

We flew across the Cheshire countryside for just over an hour. when we were low we could see people waving which was lovely and of course, we all waved back and shouted hello.

The whole of the flight was fantastic but one of the highlights for me was flying over a marina filled with boats, it was a lovely sight. I wasn't sure which marina it was until I found out later it was Overwater Marina at Audlem. I posted pictures on a boaters Facebook page in the hope that people would be able to spot their boats from the unusual aerial view. I was thrilled when not only did people spot their boats one lovely boater snapped a picture of our balloon and was kind enough to post it. That was lovely for us to see what we looked like from the ground.


                                                            Us in the air!

Another lady messaged me from the marina asking if they could use my photos on the marina Facebook page, of course, I was honored that they wanted to and said yes of course they could.


                                            The lovely aerial view of  Overwater Marina at Audlem.                             

Once we were coming to the end of our flight the pilot had to look for a suitable landing site. The thought hadn't really occurred to me that he wouldn't have a clue where we would land as it depended on which direction the balloon would take us. Once a suitable landing spot was decided he opened a huge vent at the top of the balloon to let the air out so the balloon would fall gently towards the ground. We then had to all hold tight to the looped hand ropes bend our knees and prepare for landing! We were told on the odd occasion the basket would tip on landing so we would all be on our backs but it only tilted precariously then popped upright again, we were down safe. The pilot was great and looked after us all so well.

I was fascinated to learn that wherever the balloon landed we would have to stay put until the ground crew contacted the farmer that owned the field to get permission to be there, once permission was granted then, and only then could we disembark. In the rare and unlikely case that the farmer wouldn't grant permission, we would have to take off again and find a kinder farmer! We were told most farmers were amenable and would be thanked and gifted a bottle of whiskey. Once landed we all mucked in rolling the balloon up so it could be loaded onto the trailer we were then all driven back to the pub in the landrover's to pick up our cars. We hadn't realized just how far we had travelled in the balloon until we saw how long it took to drive us back to the pub!

All in all, it was an amazing experience and I urge anybody to try it. Al and I loved every minute it was magic!


The lovely Balloon we went in.


                        The little yellow balloon in the photo above was our pilot's son who was training to be a pilot himself.  We flew with Wickers World and the pilot and crew were lovely!


Saturday, June 26, 2021

 Liverpool And Sink!

No, we didn't sink in Liverpool!

We had a fab few days in the Salthouse Dock, weather was amazingly kind, long sunny days! The fifth trip through on the link for me. First time for Al and he really enjoyed it even after having to do all the bridges and a few locks too! It's just lovely to relax in different surroundings for a few days made even better by the lovely weather.


                               Tickety Boo nestled into the bank for the night before heading to
                                the Melling bridge the next morning.                                 

Mr and Mrs Canadian goose and brood and Al waiting to go down the locks at the Eldonian village.

                I love going through to Liverpool, it's
                such a lovely trip.
                                              The dock was like a mill pond and the weather was glorious!

It has always been lovely going through to Liverpool on the boat but I loved the fact that Tickety Boo is all newly decorated and spic and span I am so pleased with her new look, she is once again my, or should I say our, pride and joy! To top it all Al has now fitted a new sink in the bathroom, to say I am thrilled is an understatement. I have mentioned before that for 16/17 years I have put up with a sink in there that I have never really liked, a stainless steel oval salad bowl! Having a new enamel sink set in a new vanity unit has given the bathroom the overhaul it desperately needed. Plus Al has finished off the trim in there, installed new lights and new flooring that was left over from the galley. The lights are Led now and are so much brighter. We have plastic paneling in the bathroom and would highly recommend it after 17 years it still looks good and is so easy to keep clean.

                                No room for hand soap on the new sink so a soap dispenser instead.



                                            Vast improvement from this! 

To say fitting the sink was a bugger of a job is putting it mildly, poor Al had to build a plinth to raise the sink so it would self drain. The new unit was in and out like a fiddler's elbow but Al being Al sorted it and it looks great! If I had half of Al's patience I would be blessed! So now the bathroom matches the rest of the revamp in the boat and just to finish off nicely I bought a new microwave as the old one was well past its best. The microwave being for the Galley, not the bathroom!

               I didn't want to spend too much on the microwave. This was just £57 in B+Q. Bargain!                       


We did the old dock tour while we were at the Salthouse, I have done it before so I knew Al would like it too. It's under Liverpool One and is fascinating so I recommend it for anybody going through to Liverpool on their boat, you can book it online and can be booked for a party of six or under. It was the first functioning dock in Liverpool and was what helped Liverpool thrive and become the great city it is today.  As you walk from the Albert Dock towards Liverpool One past the fountains you will see a well-like structure which is a window looking down into the old dock, I often wondered what it was so now I know!

We really look forward to doing the journey again. We had some lovely meals while in Liverpool and of course some retail therapy! Looking forward to our next venture out on the boat!


Saturday, May 01, 2021

Back On The Cut!

Well, we finally got back out on the cut and it was lovely!

Our Moorhen lodgers had left but sadly out of the eight chicks only three survived and left the nest. On reading up on it on google it's quite common for only a few of the chicks to survive. Thinking about it all the years I have been on the canal I have never seen a Moorhen with more than three or four chicks so it must be quite common that not all of them survive. It's really sad but that's nature I suppose.

I spent a week getting the boat cleaned inside and out before our trip out and it felt so nice knowing that we can now take the boat out as and when we want. It seemed like an eternity waiting for restrictions to be lifted but finally, we were off out!

Parbold is a favourite place of mine to moor overnight, it's not far but feels like we have travelled a long way. It's perfect when we only have a weekend off as we can get there and back in no time and it's so peaceful and picturesque. It was Al's first time there on the boat and I think he is a firm fan of the place now too.

We stayed in the Marina on Friday night then set out on Saturday and headed for Parbold. The weather was absolutely perfect which made our post lockdown cruise even better. We planned on maybe stopping at a pub for a bite to eat, but we enjoyed the boat so much we were quite happy to eat on the back deck in the sunshine.

I am ashamed to admit I don't really do locks. In all the years I have had the boat I have always been at the helm so have never needed to learn. Al is becoming quite good at steering the boat and his confidence is building more and more each trip out. Once he is confident enough, he will take the boat into locks so I really need to start doing the locks too!

There is a deep lock in Parbold and Al had never done one so this would be his first. The plan was to moor at the bottom of the lock then go and gongoozle to watch how it was all done. It turned out that a couple we met at one of the bridges was going through the lock, so I asked if Al could do the lock with them. I knew he would grasp the concept straight away and he didn't disappoint which was just as well as he had to lock me back down! He did it perfectly and I felt very safe considering he was a lock virgin so he is hired!!


                                              A silhouette of my new " Lockie"  :)

Tickety Boo started the first time after so long sitting idle she didn't let us down apart from a squealing belt. It was slipping and making a bit of a racket but after a short sharp blast of power it soon stopped and the rest of the trip was trouble-free.

                                             So nice to be out again.

It was such a lovely weekend and bliss to be out on the cut in the glorious sunshine. Typical of me after a lockdown I wanted to be in the middle of nowhere! Most people after lockdown want to party and go where there is lots going on but I was more than happy it was just Al and me in the beautiful countryside.

         Some lovely gardens on the way through Burscough.        

                                   Plenty of liquid refreshment, and why not?

      A lovely view from the Galley window, nice to wake up to.

My new job is brilliant, it doesn't feel like a job at all. I only do an hour or so in the morning from 8am and the same at three pm doing the school run with a lovely little boy, he is adorable and so well behaved. He goes to a fabulous school called Bluebell Park, he goes in with a smile on his face and comes out the same. I have all those hours in between the morning and afternoon run to do with what I please, it's bliss. I can spend lots of time going to the boat and being in Al's lovely house too. I feel like I have retired early!


                     Masses of Bluebells in Parbold.

Doing this job has really opened my eyes to just how many children have learning difficulties of varying degrees. Bluebell Park is an amazing school and caters for all the children's different needs. To be honest it makes me feel quite humble. I feel quite honoured to be working in such a caring worthwhile job.

So our next adventure! I thought I would try and book a passage through to Liverpool for a few days at half term in June. I didn't think for one minute we would get in but surprisingly there was plenty of slots. Another first for Alan and I am sure he will love it. You see such a different world travelling along the Canal to Liverpool and staying in the Salthouse dock is great. Nice to just meander into town shopping having nice meals and being able to have a drink without worrying about getting home as home is in the dock! I am really looking forward to it.

So now I have a Skipper and a Lockmaster onboard what more can a girl ask for! Oh and being the star he is he painted the engine bay too....don't know what I did to deserve him!

I have ordered a new vanity sink unit for the bathroom so photos to follow once fitted. The Bathroom on the boat needs sprucing up a bit to match the new decor in the rest of the boat so a few tweaks here and there and it will. Looking forward to tidying it up, new coving trim around the top of the walls, new flooring that will match the floor in the Galley and new fan and shower led lights, oh and a hand wash wall dispenser... get us!! There won't be enough room on the new sink for a hand wash so a wall-mounted one will solve that problem. I can't wait to have a porcelain sink in the bathroom, I have had a stainless steel "salad bowl" for far too long!

It's May Bank Holiday weekend so a nice three-day break. Household chores have kept me busy today as Al is working so now all chores out of the way a free day tomorrow to go boating!

It's a huge relief to feel that things are slowly getting back to a near normal. I have always loved and appreciated the boat but now more than ever after lockdown.  Having somebody special to share it with too. Life is good!

            ( For those who don't know to Gongoozle or be a Gongoozler is to watch boats and activities on the Canal especially at Locks)